Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Charles L. Heyde to Walt Whitman, 2 January 1890

Date: January 2, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00419

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ashlyn Stewart, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock

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Van Ness and American Hotels
Burlington Vt.
Van Ness House
The Van Ness House has a Safety Hydraulic Passenger Elevator Fire Escape and the Grinell Automatic Sprinkler
Fine Views of the Lakes and Mountains from all parts of the House.
Burlington Vt.
Jany 2d 1890.

Just as crept into my bed last Eveng—Han1 called to me saying that she just got a letter from Walt2 and he had enclosed 2 dollars in it for me.—Well I felt quite elated, it just met a necessity—our milk tickets had run out—item 50 cents, and we have such a good milkman, brings Han [a?] quart a day, Jersey stock fresh—sweet—how nice Charlie, she says, I do li[ke?] our milkman—A'int Walt Clever" she querie[s?] I assure you that I agree with her, our good, best friend—She is growin[g?] stronger every day—

Weather mild—rainy—I rather hope to sell a pain[ting?] soon—but the world is no[w?] full of paintings, controll[ed?] by dealers—galleries crowd[ed?]. How fortunate that we have a homestead, and so pleasant[ly?] located—so desirable——I wrote to George3 for a small amount, 5 dollars, for wint[er?], no reply——I shall crowd through—pretty Square—I am mortified to beg, so—I appreciate your good will.


Charles Louis Heyde (ca. 1820–1892), a French-born landscape painter, married Hannah Louisa Whitman (1823–1908), Walt Whitman's sister, and they lived in Burlington, Vermont. Charles Heyde was infamous among the Whitmans for his offensive letters and poor treatment of Hannah. For more information about Heyde, see Steven Schroeder, "Heyde, Charles Louis (1822–1892)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Hannah Louisa (Whitman) Heyde (1823–1908), youngest sister of Walt Whitman, married Charles Louis Heyde (1822–1890), a French-born landscape painter. For more, see Paula K. Garrett, "Whitman (Heyde), Hannah Louisa (d. 1908)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. See Whitman's letter to Hannah Whitman Heyde of December 13, 1889[back]

3. George Washington Whitman (1829–1901) was the sixth child of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman and ten years Walt Whitman's junior. George enlisted in 1861 and remained on active duty until the end of the Civil War. He was wounded in the First Battle of Fredericksburg (December 1862) and was taken prisoner during the Battle of Poplar Grove (September 1864). As a Civil War correspondent, Walt wrote warmly about George's service, such as in "Our Brooklyn Boys in the War" (January 5, 1863); "A Brooklyn Soldier, and a Noble One" (January 19, 1865); "Return of a Brooklyn Veteran" (March 12, 1865); and "Our Veterans Mustering Out" (August 5, 1865). After the war, George returned to Brooklyn and began building houses on speculation, with partner Mr. Smith and later a mason named French. George also took a position as inspector of pipes in Brooklyn and Camden. Walt and George lived together for over a decade in Camden, but when Walt decided not to move with George and his wife Louisa in 1884, a rift occurred that was ultimately not mended before Walt's 1892 death. For more information on George Washington Whitman, see Martin G. Murray, "Whitman, George Washington," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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